How to Find the Perfect Wedding Dress for Your Shape
When trying to find the perfect wedding dress, some brides get lucky and find THE dress right off the bat. The very first dress they step into winds up being the one they walk out with. For the rest of the world, this can be a stressful process. For I first started looking for dresses for my wedding in 2006, not only did I visit all of the big name bridal shops, but my mom and I ended up hunting down all of the smaller ones too. I just couldn't find that "perfect" dress. I wasn't getting that feeling.
Of all the brides I've worked with and all of the stories I've heard over the years, this is a common issue with brides. However, I've discovered, with a little research ahead of time, taking into consideration your wedding style, formality, the weather, and most importantly, your body style, finding the perfect dress can become a much easier process. When I was married just this last year, I was lucky enough to find my perfect dress in the first shop I walked into.
In this article, I hope to share some tips with you that can make you one of those lucky brides that finds their dress right off the bat!
If You Have a Pear-Shaped Figure
If you have a pear-shaped figure, this means that you have a smaller upper body and a curvier lower body. This might include a larger stomach, hips, bottom and/or thighs. A smaller upper body doesn't always mean a smaller bust area, but this is usually the case. Jennifer Love-Hewitt has a pear-shaped figure.
Most women with this type of figure want to draw the eyes upward away from their lower body. In order to do this, you will want to create a balance between your body and the dress you choose with a ball gown or A-line silhouette. A skirt that gradually flares out from the natural waist to the floor, highlights the most narrow part of the midsection and floats away from the hips and thighs.
Choosing the right waistline will only add to the accent of your skirt. For the pear, I recommend choosing a waistline that sits at your thinnest point. If you have a really skinny waist, show it off with a natural or basque waistline. For a healthier waistline, an asymmetrical or empire waistlines are a great trick for slimming this area. Great options for necklines will showcase a more slender upper body, like one shoulder, strapless, v-neck, or halter necklines.
If You Have an Apple-Shaped Figure
If you are apple-shaped, you likely have a larger chest area and broader shoulders. Sometimes this also might include a larger midsection. You will want to create long lines down the middle of your body and highlight those areas where you are smaller.
Elongate your silhouette with a high waistline like an empire or even a natural waistline. By choosing a skirt that flows away from your body, you will create the illusion of a curvier lower half and draw the eyes to your smaller waist. Consider showing off your legs with knee or tea-length dresses. This will have the same effect, showing off your most slender parts and hiding your wider ones.
Think about choosing a plain bodice with less texture to it that fits snugly. This will add to the illusion of a smaller top section, creating a corset-like effect. The most slenderizing neckline for you is one with a deep V, which draws the eyes toward the vertical, not the horizontal. If you are apple-shaped, you in company with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Drew Barrymore.
If You Have a Rectangular-Shaped Figure
If you are rectangular-shaped, this likely means your shoulders and hips are about the same width, and you don't have a lot of waist definition. This is also called an athletic figure and may or may not come with a larger bust. Reese Witherspoon has a beautiful rectangular figure.
You want a dress that will create curves where you don’t have them. Look for a ball gown or ballerina silhouette that cinches in at your natural waist and descends into a full, flowing skirt. You might also choose an empire waist that will flare out just below your bust, making it look like you have tons of curves underneath. All of these will capitalize on your slenderness and camouflage your lack of curves.
Another great way to do this is by utilizing the use of a belt. Define your waistline. With a mermaid, a trumpet, or even an A-line silhouette, cinch it in at the waist to create some curves right through your middle. Draw attention upwards and downwards. Choose a neckline that will draw eyes upwards and use a lot of texture and design. With a different top than bottom, you'll bring eyes upwards and once again create the illusion of curviness.
Avoid the sleeves, unless they're just partials, and wear a beautiful necklace. To bring eyes downward, decorate the edge of your dress, add some color down there, or simply choose a mermaid or trumpet style dress.
If you are an hourglass, your shoulders and hips are about the same width, and you have a well-defined waist. You have natural curves in all the right places. This is a great figure to really show off. Just about any wedding dress is going to look great on you!
Show off those curves with a body-hugging mermaid, trumpet, or sheath silhouettes with their fit and flare shapes that flatter your curves in all the right places. Consider see-through corset dresses, or any dresses that show off your mid-section. Jewels, designs, and colored sashes can do just this.
Traditionally, girls with hourglass shapes choose to minimize their hips with a fuller A-line or ball gown skirt and a fitted waist. Christina Hendricks and Scarlett Johannson are perfect examples of an hourglass figure.
Taller and Shorter Women
If you are a taller woman and want to minimize this look with your wedding dress, the key will be to look for a silhouette that's more broken up. Steer clear of lengthening looks like the sheath, the empire waist or anything with a longer waistline like the dropped waist or princess seaming.
Choose a dress with sleeves over your shoulders or even a cage or illusion neckline where sheer organza is draped to cover your shoulders in addition to a sleeveless gown. This will bring the length of your upper body down a smidgen and, if using a cage or illusion look, you'll still be able to have the sleeveless dress you've always wanted.
Consider using a belt or a waistline that will define your natural waist and break up the flow of the dress. Opt for flowers, rushing, pull-ups, lace, or any other decoration on your skirt. Even choosing a ballerina, mermaid, or trumpet skirt will break up the dress and also minimize your height.
For shorter women, you will go for the more lengthening dress silhouettes, like the sheaths, empires, mermaids, and A-lines. Long slim skirts will make your legs look a lot longer. Choose a waistline that lengthens your torso like a dropped waist, princess seaming, or even an asymmetrical look.
No sleeves for you! Or at least choose a dress that shows your arms and has a lower dropped neckline. A sweetheart, V-neck, halter, off-the-shoulder, or even asymmetric top will really lengthen out your body. Avoid detail and decorations on the top part of your dress, but feel free to go crazy with lace, silk, and organza on the skirt. Anything that flows and keeps the like of your dress going vertical will really be flattering on you!
I know all of this seems complicated, but there are subtle tricks mixed in. Choose a dress that hides the parts of your body that you don't like and emphasizes those parts you do. Have a slim waistline and great legs, go for the ballerina look. Show them off! If you are trying to hide a lower body, ball gowns are great for that.
If you visit a well-known bridal shop, similar to David's Bridal or Alfredo Angelo's, there will be helpful and knowledgeable consultants that will know exactly how to help you. They know their dresses well, and will know exactly what will look great on you. You are well on your way to finding the dress of your dreams. In this article, we discussed dress silhouettes, necklines, and waistlines that are common amongst wedding dresses. If you felt a little lost, you'll want to check out my article on Wedding Dress Types and Terminology. Be on the lookout for my next article that will show you how to save money on your dress!
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© 2013 Victoria Van Ness